Panel OKs new medical-order form that would clearly define a person’s end-of-life wishes on nutrition, hydration, medication

A bill to create a medical order form that details a person’s wishes for end-of-life care passed the Senate Health and Welfare Committee Feb. 4 and seems headed for passage in the full Senate.

Advocates say that while many physicians discuss end-of-life care with their patients and families and document it, this information is often buried deep in the chart and is not easily accessible in an emergency situation.

“This issue comes to play on a daily basis,” Christian Furman, vice-chair of geriatric medicine at the University of Louisville and medical director of two nursing homes in Louisville, told the committee.

Sen. Tom Buford

Senate Bill 77, sponsored by Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, would creates a new Medical Order for Scope of Treatment form to specifically direct the type of treatment a patient would like to have and how much medical intervention they would like to have during end-of-life care. The MOST form is used in 32 states, Furman said.

The form is more detailed than a living will because it addresses not only the question of resuscitation, but specifies which life-saving measures, such as nutrition, hydration and medication, that a person wants to receive and under what circumstances.

The form must be reviewed annually. It allows for information sharing between providers and is part of the patient’s electronic health record.

Furman said the order of controlling documents for end-of-life care is clearly defined in the bill: the living will first, the MOST form second, and the health-care surrogate, which is chosen by the patient and listed on the form, third.

Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, who is a physician, told his fellow committee members that the MOST form will not only assure a person’s personal wishes are honored, but will also save an “immense” amount of money “just in terms of doing unnecessary treatments for folks.”

“Five percent of Medicare beneficiaries die each year and their end-of-life care accounts for about 30 percent of total Medicare spending with as much as one-third spent in the last month of life,” Bill First writes for Morning Consult, citing an article from the peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs.

Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, a lawyer, said the medical community and patients need to be made aware that such forms exist. Buford said he trusted this would happen.

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